Six on Saturday – Hope

Welcome to this week’s Six on Saturday.  My theme, and I do like a theme even if I do tend to go off piste, is “hope”.   I googled “what is hope?” and I was presented with two options.  Firstly; a feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen.  It was however the second, archaic, definition that I believe is most relevant; a feeling of trust.  When Pandora inadvertently released a truckload of woes into the world by opening her famous box, hope was left behind, jammed in a corner at the bottom no doubt.  Hope is not always easy to hold onto, but we must try, and we must trust in the future.

This morning I was up early wandering around the garden in my PJ’s taking photographs, the neighbours are used to it now, and I found lots to shout about.  Horticulturally speaking this is a time of great hope, seeds are beginning to germinate, plants sprouting, plans are huge and expectations immense.  If you would like to know more about SoS, all the information you could possible want, and much, much more, is over at our leader The Proptastic Mr Prop’s site.  Shall we begin?

First we have the valiant Rhodotypos scandens with its corrugated lime green leaves just beginning to emerge.  The photo is a bit blurry, but it was blowing a Klondike gale out there this morning.  All winter it rocked and rolled on its roots in the frozen hinterland of the front garden, but it has come through undaunted.  Soon the flowers, perfect in their simplicity, will give me joy each time I walk up the garden path.

Next the flowers of a pot grown blueberry.  Yesterday I suggested to OH that we get rid of it, or donate it to someone else who would look after it better, as it isn’t very productive.  I think it is flowering just to make me feel guilty, which of course I do.  Plans for its demise are on hold.

This Impatiens stenantha should really be snoozing, or perhaps just emerging, but it has had insomnia all winter long.  The leaves are beautiful with their toothed red edges.  An early flowering perhaps?

The Lavandula pinnata has also not slept.  It is like having a garden of hyperactive teenagers at a sleepover.  Unlike teens, I am confident unremitting flowering will not make them grumpy or late for school.

Soon there will be tulips.  These look sturdy and full of potential.  I can’t remember what varieties they are, we are all in for a surprise, hopefully a good one.

Lastly, a kindness.  At this moment in this world’s turbulent history some people are having toilet rolls and pasta left on their doorsteps by caring neighbours.  I had a Woodwardia radicans and a packet of tigridia seed.  Thanks Hero, you know how to make me happy!

That is your lot.  Stay safe and stay happy my friends.  ‘Til next time.

More Rain and Banana Bread

Rain yet again stopped play today.  I tried very hard to be a brave little bunny.  After sloshing around in my waterproofs for a short while, it was obvious to all but a fool that it was too wet to continue.  All I was making was mud pies and myself miserable.

Home and dried, I wondered what was to be done on such a day?  And then my eagle eyes honed in on some well-tanned bananas in the fruit bowl.  And I thought about banana bread.  Which is strange because I haven’t made banana bread for at least 30 years.  I rarely bake, I am not a fan of sweet things, I don’t often eat bananas.  I am not sure what came over me.  After a short rummage, I found the above recipe.  It is quite peculiar coming across your own handwriting from years ago, looking directly at your younger self.  I smiled to see that I started out with my best handwriting and as it progressed I became more slapdash.  Mistakes, amendments, rushing to finish.  A familiar tale.  The recipe is one I first used as a teenager, pleasingly splattered and smudged with memories of past efforts.  It was strangely comforting to think of it.  Why not?  I thought.  Let’s give it a go for old times’ sake.

As usual, I will carefully guide you through the recipe, with the reality in italics:

  1.  Oven 190C, Mark 5. Minimal information young Gill, I imagine this means I should turn the oven on to that temperature.  Evidence indeed that all those episodes of Bake Off were indeed educational.
  2.  Mash bananas with lemon juice.  Chop walnuts.  Sift baking powder and flour.  The recipe calls for 3 small bananas but mine are rather large, will chuck them all in, the more nana the better!  To compensate for excessive banana use I added a bit more lemon juice.  Chuckle at my correction on the sheet.  We don’t have any walnuts but we do have some mixed nuts, so chop those instead.
  3. Cream butter and sugar until creamy, beat in eggs.  Type of sugar not specified but as we only have light muscavado decide this is the perfect choice.  Butter rock hard, try to soften on the radiator but get bored very quickly.  Try with electric hand mixer.  Carnage.  Tidy up.  Decide on “ye olde” wooden spoon method.  Blimey, forgotten how hard that is.  Smells delicious.  Time passes.  Decide that is creamy enough.  The eggs are large, hope that is OK.  I’ve gone too far now to let a small matter like that trip me up.  Beat in eggs with spoon.  Looks disgusting.  Decide to try electric hand mixer again.  Mini-carnage, then all well.  Looks much better.
  4. Stir in bananas. Easy peasy although it does seem like quite a lot.  No matter, it will make it particularly moist.
  5. Fold in flour and walnuts. Forgot to sift flour earlier so do it straight into the mix, saves on the washing up as I don’t have my slave/little brother to clear up for me anymore.   Perform a highly professional fold in, though I say it myself.
  6. Bake for 1 hour.  Although not mentioned, I presume that I then transfer the mix to the buttered bread tin.  Again thank you Bake Off.  Worry slightly that there is too much batter and it will overflow.  As I am past caring I just pop the tin on a tray so in case of spillage it won’t mess the oven up too much.  I am such a grown up these days.  Set grumpy cat time for 1 hour and wait.

Me:  The excitement is too much; I think I will take a peek.

Inner Dialogue:  No you will spoil it.

Me:  But what if its burning?

Inner Dialogue:  You would smell it if its burning, take a chill pill baby.

Me:  If you are you quite sure.

*grumpy cat bell rings, rushes to oven*

Me:  You told me it wouldn’t burn, that I would smell it!  Why do I continue to listen to your advice?  Anyone with any sense would have stopped paying attention to the rubbish you come out with years ago!

Inner dialogue:  Stop fussing, it is known as “charred” not burnt.  All the top restaurants are doing it these days.  In fact Mary Berry has a new book out called Singe.

Me:  Or I could just cut the black bits off and no one will ever know.

Inner dialogue:  Good plan.

*OH walks into kitchen*

OH:  It’s a bit burnt!

Me:  It’s called charred.

OH:  OK, shall we have a piece?

OH:  Delicious, I could eat it every day!

Me:  Another happy ending.



Six on Saturday – Celebration

On the face of it there hasn’t been much to celebrate recently.  For quite a while now.  Most of the reasons, and there have been a fair few, have been, and are continuing to be, well documented.   Too many commas?  Perhaps.  In our little corner, just to add some spice to the mix, we have a new leak at the back of the house and our boiler threw a hissy fit on Tuesday and will not be fixed (at the earliest) until Monday.  Good job it isn’t cold and wet and miserable, that would be truly horrendous.  Wait a minute ……..  Still, where there is life and a multi-pack of kettle crisps there is hope and there is generally something to smile about in the garden.  My Six on Saturday will therefore be a celebration.  I will not be thwarted.  Not this week anyway.  If you would like to read the rest of the gangs’ contributions, a lovely optimistic lot they are too, pop on over to The Maestro Prop’s site to find out what is going on across the globe and beyond.

First we have a primula, and a rather lovely one at that.  It has been left to its own devices and, as things do, it has bulked up in a pleasing way over the last few years.  I don’t remember planting it, but this means little.

Now the seed head of Micanthus nepalensis, its contents jettisoned.  The skeleton a reminder of what was and what is to come.

A large piece of this rosemary snapped off a few weeks ago.  “Helpfully”, and yes the inverted commas are significant, my OH tidied up the broken piece that was sheltering a friendly snail.  Although a little battered, the flowers are defiant.

Well hello Muscari latifolium, please feel free to grow and become the beauty you are destined to become.  No need to be shy, we are all friends here.

I love the fiery red that some of the Pelargonium cordifolium var. rubrocinctum leaves have turned this winter.  Although this could possibly indicate stress, unhappiness or indeed despair, I dismiss this negativity and just enjoy the show.  Harsh, and not in the slightest bit fair.

And to conclude I will share something that is not lurking in my garden.  I hope I am forgiven.  Let me take you to the romantic setting of an industrial estate on the edge of Bideford, not far from the recycling centre and around the corner from the furniture warehouse.  It was here, after 34 years of unwedded bliss, myself and OH had a civil partnership.  It was very low key, just ourselves and our witnesses, the glorious Lord and Lady Mantle.  We then scooted off to the Burton Art Gallery for lunch.  As would befit the ocassion, myself and OH had chips and beer whilst the Mantles enjoyed galettes and fizz.  The sun shone.  It was lovely.  Although to be honest Lady M. could have looked a little jollier.  I am also slightly concerned that it was the registry office we visited and not Screwfix …..

Stay well friends, keep your chins pointed towards the sky and don’t lose the faith.  ‘Til next time.